Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Book Review: The War I Finally Won
"The War I Finally Won" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a fantastic sequel to "The War That Saved My Life."
Once again, Ada endears herself to the reader with her vulnerability. World War II continues to rage and the aftermath is horrendous. Homes are lost, friends are lost, comforts are lost, lives are lost. Even hope is lost.
But new friends come, in the form of Ruth, a Jewish German. No one is welcoming or accepting of her at first but soon a sweet friendship grows as well as a new understanding.
I love how this book introduces complex situations and emotions to young children, challenging them to explore and consider situations they may never be in themselves. Things like learning to accept someone different than you. Challenges of living without normal necessary comforts. Loss and death. Loneliness. Emotional and mental frailty. It is through reading books like this that children learn empathy for people and situations that foreign, scary and untouchable.
Another strong part of this book is the historical aspect. I love viewing the war from this perspective. I don't think it is one that is used very often, especially from a child's point of view.
A couple of my favorite parts are:
(Ada is at the top of the church in the middle of the night with Susan looking for fires)
"...I don't believe you're in danger up here, not any more than anywhere else. Think about it. You don't have to feel safe to actually be safe.'
I supposed. I'd never felt safe, so how would I know?"
I love that concept - You don't have to feel safe to actually be safe. That is something that Ada struggles with from the first novel and throughout this one. It demonstrates the power of the story we tell ourselves, what we allow ourselves to believe. Sometimes we are safe, or worthwhile, or beautiful, or whatever else, even though we don't see or believe it.
Mrs. Thornton has the most difficult time accepting Ruth. But in the end, she learns to look at the individual and open herself to understanding.
"I knew about the part of the world I grew up in,' Lady Thorton said, looking directly at me. 'You knew about the part you grew up in. Now we both know more."
This is one of the most valuable lessons of the whole book and why I think young people should read it